Cancer now in remission, Jackson dreams big
by Staff Writer
HUNTERSVILLE – Although he’s just shy of 12 years old, Jackson Martin has known his future dreams for a while now. And even a cancer diagnosis back in 2007 didn’t sway him.
Two years ago, the then-10-year-old Martin told The Herald Weekly he wanted to be a basketball player when he grows up. He’s only changed that a tad. Now, he says he wants to be a starting player in the NBA – with any type of NBA job as his back-up plan.
If his determination to reach that goal is anything like his drive to beat cancer, he just may make it there.
After first going to the doctor for x-rays for a minor limp in spring 2007, a blood test led to the diagnosis of acute lymphoblastic leukemia on Sept. 19 of that year. Jackson, who had already been playing basketball for the Huntersville Youth Athletic Association for a year, had to put his sports dreams on hold.
“It’s one of those things where you remember where you were and what you were doing at the time,” Mitch Martin, Jackson’s dad, told The Herald two years ago. “Your stomach gets in a knot, and you can’t think about anything else.”
At the time, Jackson was still undergoing monthly chemotherapy treatments and daily home medications. Two years later, he’s now in remission.
Chemo ended in January 2011, but the Alexander IB Middle School sixth grader still gets precautionary blood tests completed every other month. It will still be four more years until he’s considered “cured.”
“But his health is normal,” Mitch Martin said.
Jackson was already back to playing basketball when The Herald spoke with him two years ago, but the sport wasn’t easy for him after his chemo treatments.
“The long-term treatment affected his right leg, so he had difficulty running,” Mitch Martin said. “He didn’t score any points last year.”
But this year was different. He scored 37 total points – making his first shot during the first game of the season. And though the season is officially over, this champion will continue playing in a spring league.
Thankful that Jackson has a chance to live out his dreams, the Martin family has taken it upon themselves to help other families of children with childhood cancer.
“Many other families are dealing with a similar situation (to ours),” Jackson said. “I like it when we can help give them the support they need.”
The Martins havebecome friends with a nearby family who has a young son with the same type of cancer as Jackson. From being listening ears to babysitting the family’s children, to making them meals during a rough week, Jackson’s mother, Cheryl Martin, is making it a goal to help this family.
Cheryl Martin is also a parent representative on the board for Camp CARE (www.campcare.org/), which provides a normal camping experience for children with cancer, and she volunteers for the support group, Childhood Cancer Circle of Hope, at Levine Children’s Hospital, where Jackson received his treatments.
“You feel so isolated during the time your child is going through treatment, and only other cancer families understand what you’re going through,” Cheryl Martin said.
Mitch Martin credits Jackson’s positive attitude with what sustained the family through his four years of cancer treatments. He hopes his family’s story can give others hope.
“In the beginning, it’s certainly a frightening and scary thing to go through,” he said. “Focus on what you need to do in your part as the parent ... and keep as positive of an attitude as you can.”